RAWALPINDI: The Ministry of Climate Change is leading efforts to combat desertification in the country, the deputy inspector general (DIG) of forests said at a seminar on Wednesday.

Dr Raja Mohammad Omer, the DIG of forests at the climate change ministry, was speaking at a seminar on ‘Combating Desertification in Pakistan’, held to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification at the Pir Mehr Air Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi.

Speakers at the event said desertification is both caused by human activity and a natural phenomenon. They said choices such as what to eat, drink and wear impact land.

They focused on the measurable value of land beyond its cash value, and suggested everyone play their role to invest in it.

They also recommended adopting smart agricultural practices, conserving water and spending on organic and fair-trade products.

Speakers also emphasised the achievement of land degradation neutrality (LDN) through problem-solving, community involvement and cooperation at all levels.

The seminar was organised by PMAS-AAUR’s Department of Forestry and Range Management, in collaboration with the Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) and the Ministry of Climate Change.

Dr Omer was invited as the chief guest, while PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Sarwat N. Mirza was the guest of honour.

Addressing the seminar, Dr Omer said the ministry was leading efforts to combat desertification through the Sustainable Land Management Programme in 14 dry land districts in the country,

He thanked provincial governments and their aligned departments for taking the lead in their respective provinces to fight land degradation and desertification, and told the audience that SLMP national programme director and inspector general of forests Syed Mahmood Nasir had stepped up coordination with provinces to effectively implement the programme.

Dr Mirza highlighted the role the university is playing in adapting to climate change and said such collaborative activities need to be strengthened and taken forward to combat desertification.

Earlier, SLMP policy reforms and capacity building expert Nadeem Shaukat spoke about world desertification day and the SLMP’s approach and interventions to improve land management in Pakistan.

“The implementation of the programme will bring considerable financial benefits for the poor in dry land communities through the sustainable management of their land resources,” he said.

A technical talk on combating desertification focused on practical initiatives was delivered by Dr M. Irfan Ashraf.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018

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